A salute to those who served, died
Every time I hear the mournful tribute Taps played, or see soldiers fold the American flag, kneel, and place it in the hands of a widow, parent, or family, I stand a little taller, a little prouder because I love the words that come next. “On behalf of the president of the United States, the United States Army and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”
A grateful nation, appreciative of honorable and faithful service–that is what we are and what we must continue to show and be this Memorial Day and every day as we pause to reflect on the enormous sacrifice of those who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces.
The familiar phrase “All gave some, but some gave all,” is a fresh reminder that freedom isn’t free. Whether soldiers are killed in combat, in routine maneuvers, accidents, training exercises, “peace-keeping activities,” or under other unfortunate circumstances, the fact remains that they sacrificed everything to keep our country and families safe.
In almost every history book there is an account of the beginning and ending of World War II but most of them do a woefully inadequate job of covering the devastation caused by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. I visited Hiroshima for a conference on peace in 2014 and it was powerful and painful to see the long-term effects of our warring actions.
One of the displays at the Hiroshima Peace Museum said after living through the ravages of this bomb, the commitment of the Japanese people was to literally study war no more. Their prayer: “May those souls rest in peace and with God’s help and Man’s resolution, peace will prevail forever. Amen.”
As skirmishes, conflicts and threats break out, and wars and rumors of wars continue to swirl around and among our national and world leaders, we, the people, must resolve, like the Japanese, to find a more excellent and diplomatic way to build bridges, defend U. S. interests, and protect the children of the world from further turmoil since many have never known peace in any form.
We know that in war nobody wins– no matter who has the biggest weapons, the fastest or most devastating missiles, the most skilled and strategic leaders, the human toll is great. Look at Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran–troops die, their families, generations, and homelands are decimated, all in the name of dominance and power. Today as we pause and thank God for the sacrifice of our brothers and sisters, let’s covenant to:
- Pray for and work full-time for peace. Like St. Francis of Assisi, be an instrument of it.
- Any time the president and the cabinet are considering war or aggression, take them to a national veterans cemetery and let them stay all day reading the names of those killed in combat and conflict—lest they forget our dedicated soldiers are moms and dads, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters.
- Advocate for the families of the fallen to make sure they are cared for and remembered in significant ways on these special days.
- Send a note of encouragement/remembrance today. I promise that notes are not a cure-all for everything, but they’re close! They always hit the spot and every time I receive one, it absolutely makes my day.
- Sponsor a veteran a meal or a small gift in memory of your favorite veteran. Be blessed and safe this holiday weekend.
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